Nature Article on Marine Protected Areas
Nature Magazine recently published an article titled “Policy: Marine biodiversity needs more than protection.” This article reads in part as follows:
“On 1 September, government leaders, directors of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others will meet in Hawaii at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress to discuss environmental and development challenges. Twenty-three NGOs, including the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Natural Resources Defense Council, are calling on the IUCN to make 30% of the world’s coastal and marine areas fully protected from fishing and other forms of exploitation by 2030.”
“If this target were achieved, the abundance of exploited species in the areas that are closed off would undoubtedly increase. It is not clear, however, whether the same would be true for marine biodiversity overall.
There are currently two very different views on the effectiveness of zones where fishing is either banned outright or tightly restricted. Many conservationists see the establishment of these marine protected areas (MPAs) as the only way to protect biodiversity. Others — me included — argue that the protection of biodiversity at sea can include recreational and industrial fishing and other uses of ocean resources. In fact, we think that closing waters to some kinds of fishing gear and restricting the catch of named species can offer much more protection than cordoning off even 30% of an area. We are concerned that MPAs may simply shift fishing pressure elsewhere.
Opinions are so divided that the conservation expertise of fisheries managers is being left out of national and international drives to protect ocean resources. Likewise, the suite of threats to biodiversity besides fishing, such as from oil exploration, sea-bed mining and ocean acidification, are not being addressed in standard fisheries management.
The seas face myriad problems — climate change, development and the nutritional and other needs of a growing human population. To tackle them, conservationists and those involved in fisheries management must work together and answer to the same governing bodies.”
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